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Diminishing Dumbara patterns call for revival

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The Anthropology Department of the Colombo National Museum is home to a striking repertoire of Dumbara designs. The collection which is open to the public only through temporary exhibitions, urges the revival of this fast diminishing traditional form of Lankan art which is described as a kind of ‘artistic meditation.’

by Randima Attygalle

The staff of the Anthropology Department of the Colombo National Museum treats me to a feast of painstakingly designed exotic dumbara mats, tapestries, cushion covers, purses and much more. I marvel at the skill of the traditional Lankan artisan which is often taken for granted, bargained over, driven to substitute with other means of income today.

Once the staple of the picturesque Dumbara valley (valley of the mist) or Dumbara mitiyawatha, the craft was even sought by royalty. Some of the descendants of the master weavers who enthralled Kandyan monarchs with their art, still labour to keep their family tradition alive in villages of the Dumbara valley such as Thalagune and Menikhinna. They work against many odds. The base for the craft is the hemp leaf (niyanda hana) botanically termed Sansevieria zeylanica which is hard to source today. This drives the weavers to find substitutes such as cotton.

“The difficulty in sourcing traditional inputs and the poor market price for this time consuming craft force many weavers to abandon it. In the olden days, low pit looms were used to weave hemp. Today these are replaced by cotton and standing looms. The natural dyes are today replaced with synthetics,” notes the Director General, Department of National Museums, Sanuja Kasthuriarchchi.

One of the chief keepers of the tangible history of ours, Kasthuriarachchi with her special interest in traditional local arts, moots public-private collaborations to revive this one-of-a-kind Sri Lankan craft. Unless the weavers are offered incentives and assisted to find markets, their art would soon be confined only to museums, she laments. “This environmental-friendly form of art deserves pride of place in homes, offices and hotels and a national boost is necessary.”

The Colombo National Museum’s collection of dumbara designs are a mix of donations and purchases. The entire collection, however, is not meant for public viewing, given the restrictions in exhibiting space. “We do our best to enable public access through our temporary exhibitions from time to time,” says the DG. The collection also facilitates research. They are important for the study of the use of colours, the distinct patterns of fauna and flora and other inherent weaving skills of master weavers.

An intense research on Dumbara craft by the Anthropology Department of the Colombo National Museum is underway. The community-based research in the traditional weaving villages of Dumbara which was to commence last year was suspended due to the pandemic. Museum officials hope to recommence the project once normalcy returns.

“Today the craft has been diversified and has added handbags, file covers, pencil holders etc. to its portfolio. Yet, unless the craftspeople are given a sense of security including assured markets locally and globally, this craft will not last up to the next generation,” remarks Manoj Hettiarachchi. The Museum’s anthropology curator. Museum officials encourage the public to add to their Dumbara collection.

‘An investment in the national interest, such donated exhibits from private collections will be conserved for posterity. They are treated against possible insect attacksand other hazards.’

The dumbara patterns were perfected by men and women of the kinnaraya caste, notes Ananda Coomaraswamy in his work,
Mediaeval Sinhalase Art. The historian also mentions ballads known as kinnara kavi sung by ancient dumbara weavers.

The labour-intensive fibre-production process is described by Coomaraswamy in his book. The rounded green leaves of the hana plant are gathered and scraped against a log known as the niyanda poruwa with a wooden tool (ge-valla) shaped like a spoke shave. ‘This scraping removes the fleshy part of the leaf, leaving the white fibre, which is oiled and brushed and then ready for use almost immediately. Part of the material is left white, the rest dyed red, yellow or black.’

As Coomsraswamy describes: ‘the red colour is obtained by boiling the fibre with patangi wood, korakaha leaves and gingelly oil or seeds; the yellow from a decoction of venivel; the black with the help of gall nuts, aralu and bulu.’ Added to these three traditionally used natural colours mentioned by Coomaraswamy are an assortment of others including green and blue sourced by artificial dyes.

The loom is described as a ‘low horizontal contrivance’ and the weaver squats on the mat itself, supported by a few flat logs between it and the ground. The pattern is picked up with the weaver’s lathe (vema); this lathe, having an eye at one end, serves as a bodkin called heda liya with which to draw the weft threads through the warp.’

Perfectly plain mats are called pannam kalala, Coomaraswamy documents. These are usually decorated with birds, as is usually are kurullu kalala. Those with a variety of patterns are veda kalala or veda peduru. Among the notable dumbara patterns are toran-petta, tarava,tani-vel iruwa, depota lanuwa, taraka petta, pannam petta, tunpota lanuwa, del geta lanuva and mal gaha. Animal patterns of birds, deer, cobra and elephants were also popular.

Pic credit: Department of National Museums



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Brand ambassador for Tiesh

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The Tiesh family, Thiyasha, Lasantha, Bryony Stephanie and Ayesh de Fonseka

Stephania Siriwardhana with elegance and style

As a family owned company comprising of Lasantha, Bryony, Thiyasha and Ayesh de Fonseka, Tiesh Jewellers was born out of wanting to give modern woman an opportunity to wear fine jewellery every day.Their jewellery have all the classic codes of exquisite craftsmanship. There are several factors that make Tiesh unique, the magnetic relationship between their pieces jewellery and the customer, this is signature style. The Tiesh jewellery pieces are not only meant to empower women but are also made to celebrate women.

By Zanita Careem

Pure Gold by Tiesh, a jewellery brand renowned for its exceptional craftsmanship and timeless designs, appointed Stephanie Siriwardhana, a globally recognised celebrity and multi-faceted artist, as the brand ambassador.

Known for its array of 18-karat and 22-karat gold jewellery pieces, Pure Gold by Tiesh stands as a beacon of exquisite craftsmanship and design. The brand showcases a range of breathtaking earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings that exude elegance and individuality, also available in tri-colours, rose gold, white gold, and yellow gold.

Stephanie Siriwardhana, an icon admired globally for her natural elegance and style, expressed her excitement in being appointed as the brand ambassador, saying, “I am thrilled and honoured to be appointed as the brand ambassador and face of Pure Gold by Tiesh. My relationship with Tiesh goes back to more than ten years.I have been a loyal customer and always admired and loved thier jewellery I appreciate and admire the dedication and commitment they put into perfecting each piece of jewellery.”

What is so different about Tiesh ? They distinguishes itself by blending traditional craftsmanship with modern design aesthetics, catering to the discerning tastes of the new-age woman. Commitment to versatility, allowing each piece to be worn in multiple ways,exclusivity are some of the hallmarks the brand prides itself. They are also renowned for catering to diverse cultures and ethnicities, offering something for everyone, from beautiful Hindu brides to Muslim brides and traditional Kandyan n brides.

Stephanie expressed her appreciation for the brand’s commitment to creativity, stating, “I am especially drawn to Pure Gold by Tiesh’s unique commitment to creativity and making each moment and story special with their endless personal styling options. The quality and service provided by Pure Gold by Tiesh are remarkable. When you visit Tiesh, it’s not like visiting your typical jewellery shop; it’s like visiting your home. There is always a sense of familiarity and hospitality, they understand your personal taste making it a personalised and custom experience. I feel blessed to be a part of the Tiesh family of jewellery and they always have some exciting things in the pipeline.”

The staff at Tiesh Jewellers

Pix by Thushara Attapathu

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Vitamin E for skin hydration

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Antioxidant that protects and hydrates skin, leaving it refreshed and plumped is Vitamin E While Vitamin E is a vital antioxidant with many benefits, our bodies cannot produce it naturally. Therefore, it is important to supplement our lifestyle and skincare with Vitamin E rich products to protect and nourish our skin. The Body Shop’s Vitamin E range has been a symbol of excellence since the 1970s. The Vitamin E range suits all skin types, leaving skin feeling hydrated, healthy and happy. The range’s crowing star is its moisturizing cream which delivers a +38% boost in skin hydration for eight hours.

The Body Shop Sri Lanka launches its iconic Vitamin E range at an event at The Body Shop store in Bagatalle Road, Colombo.

The Body Shop’s Vitamin E infused range now available in Sri Lanka includes a day cream, night vream, cleanser, facial wash, sleeping mask and serum.

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects and hydrates skin, leaving it refreshed and plumped.

While Vitamin E is a vital antioxidant with many benefits, our bodies cannot produce it naturally. Therefore, it is important to supplement our lifestyle and skincare with Vitamin E rich products to protect and nourish our skin. Vitamin E range, It has been a symbol of excellence since the 1970s. and suits all skin types, leaving skin feeling hydrated, healthy and happy. The range’s crowing star is its moisturizing cream which delivers a +38% boost in skin hydration for eight hours.

“Sri Lanka is a very important market for The Body Shop. Over the years, we have learnt from the country’s resilience and the ability to bounce back with growth trajectory. As a change making beauty brand, we are committed to empower customers, employees and partners to drive positive change for the world though our channels, our products and our activism. We are thankful for all the support and remain on track to provide responsible beauty products in the market.” said Vishal Chaturvedi, Vice President – Retail & Operations, The Body Shop South Asia speaking at the event.

The Vitamin E range’s ingredients are a key highlight. The range adeptly harnesses the power of Vitamin E to soak deep into skin and preserve natural fats, while replenishing the outer layer of skin and helping minimise moisture loss and skin dehydration. The Body Shop’s Vitamin E range is also replete with natural-origin hyaluronic acid from wheat and corn, which increases skin elasticity by keeping it plump and hydrated.

The range, which is vegan-friendly, is also enriched with Raspberry Seed Oil from up-cycled cold-pressed raspberries, known to be rich in Vitamin E. True to The Body Shop’s ethos of sustainability, ethical production and helping the planet, the product range sources Raspberry Seed Oil Its packaging includes recyclable packaging made from recycled materials.

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Jetwing Hotels recognised at the Annual Green Building Awards 2023

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The Green Building Council of Sri Lanka (GBCSL) recognised Jetwing Hotels, among the tourism sector, for their commitment to promoting environmental sustainability and sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka, at the recently concluded Annual Green Building Awards 2023.

GBCSL, a consensus-based nonprofit organization representing diverse sectors of the property industry, environment, and academia, seeks to revolutionize the Sri Lanka construction sector through green building practices. Their goal is to promote sustainability as the foundation for environmental well-being, economic prosperity, and societal growth. The Annual Green Building Awards, initiated by GBCSL, aims to recognize business leaders who have demonstrated their commitment for environmental sustainability.

A committee was set up by the Board of Directors of GBCSL, to gather relevant data and information relating to the sustainability performances of the business organizations in the hotel sector in Sri Lanka. The committee conferred that Jetwing Hotels Ltd has made a commendable commitment to foster environmental sustainability and integrate sustainable development principles throughout its chain of hotels, while also working for the promotion of sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka. In recognition of this commitment Jetwing Hotels was honoured with the Green Investment Excellence Award for 2023 in the tourism sector.

Each Jetwing property unfolds a distinctive narrative, intricately weaving together the local culture, the spirit of its people, and a harmonious integration with the environment. Designed to seamlessly blend with their surroundings, each hotel’s architecture embraces green building principles, prioritizing energy efficiency, resource conservation, and waste management.

The open architectural layout and incorporation of courtyards not only enhance the aesthetic appeal but also facilitate natural illumination and ventilation. Jetwing Hotels takes a significant stride towards sustainability by investing in renewable energy, which contributes to over 60% of the hotels’ total energy demand. Most properties have integrated grid-tied or off-grid solar installations contributing to meet the daily electricity required. Innovative vapour absorption chillers are employed in 04 Jetwing hotels.

These systems are powered entirely by steam generated from biomass boilers that utilise cinnamon wood – a byproduct derived from the cinnamon industry. A comprehensive waste management system is diligently implemented in each hotel. Solid waste is sorted at source; food waste is fed into onsite biogas digesters – with the biogas generated fuelling staff kitchens and the sludge produced utilised as liquid fertiliser in the gardens. Waste generated in the gardens are composted and repurposed as fertiliser.

Any plastic, glass, and paper waste are entrusted to third-party recyclers. Demonstrating a commitment to reducing its ecological footprint, Jetwing Hotels pioneers the use of glass water bottles which are filled at on-site bottling plants around the island. This initiative serves as a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic bottles, emphasizing the brand’s dedication to environmental responsibility and resource conservation.

Commenting on the latest accolade, Director of Engineering at Jetwing Hotels, Jude Kasturi Arachchi, stated “We are honored to receive the Green Investment Excellence Award from GBCSL. This recognition reaffirms our commitment to environmental sustainability and sustainable tourism. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with GBCSL, paving the way for innovative solutions, and setting new benchmarks for environmentally conscious practices in the hospitality sector. This accolade is not just an award; it’s a testament to our ongoing journey towards a more sustainable and responsible future for Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.”

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